Press Release

For Immediate release!




Saturday, September 21, 2019

King's Lucille Guitar
B.B. Ring
B.B. King Stage worn jacket

Los Angeles, California – (July 23, 2019) – Julien’s Auctions, the world-record breaking auction house, will hail the legendary King of the Blues with PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF B.B. KING taking place Saturday, September 21 live at The Standard Oil Building in Beverly Hills and live online at This spectacular auction of the revered fifteen-time Grammy Award-winning artist, singer and founding father of the electric blues, who inspired a generation of musicians and artists including Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and more, will feature an unsurpassed collection of his instruments, stage worn jackets, jewelry, awards, personal items and more from the titan’s celebrated career spanning six decades. (photo left to right: King’s “Lucille” guitar, B.B. ring and stage worn jacket).

Born Riley B. King in Atta Bean, Mississippi, on September 16th, 1925, King began playing gospel music on street corners as a teen. In 1947, he hitchhiked to Memphis, TN, to pursue his music career and studied the blues with his cousin Bukka White, one of the most celebrated blues performers of his time. He landed his first big break on Sonny Boy Williamson’s local radio show which led to other prolific gigs in Memphis, where he was inspired by other blues greats including Louis Jordan and T-Bone Walker. While developing a following in the Beale Street blues scene in the late 1940s/early 1950s, King began crafting his signature electric blues sound. After changing his name to Beale Street Blues Boy and later abbreviating it to B.B. King, the blues legend with his electric guitar was born. In 1949, the famous legend of his “Lucille” guitar was born when, during one of King’s shows, a fire broke out during a brawl and King went back into the burning building to save the guitar, narrowly escaping his own death. When he discovered that the brawl was over a woman named Lucille, he named his guitar ⁠—and each one of his trademark Gibson guitars in the decades to come ⁠—after her to remind himself to never fight over a woman or run into a burning building. (photo right: Stella Harmony acoustic guitar gifted to B.B. King by Les Paul and below left King’s Hollywood Walk of Fame plaque).

In the 1950s, King was considered one of the most important R&B artists with his first Number One Billboard R&B hit, 1952’s “3 O’Clock Blues,” and the string of hits that followed including, “You Know I Love You," "Woke Up This Morning," "Please Love Me," “You Don’t Know Me,” "When My Heart Beats like a Hammer," "Whole Lotta Love," "You Upset Me Baby," “Every Day I Have the Blues,” "Sneakin' Around," "Ten Long Years," "Bad Luck," “Sweet Little Angel,” "On My Word of Honor," and "Please Accept My Love" —all of which made him one of the top touring artists —as he clocked in a record-breaking 342 concerts in 1956. In the 1960s, his distinct guitar style of complex, vocal-like string bends and unmistakable vibrato developed a massive following and deep appreciation by the decade’s greatest English rock legends including Eric Clapton, George Harrison and the Rolling Stones. He gained greater visibility of his artistry and sound among rock audiences at grand concert halls and festivals including, the 1968 Newport Folk Festival and Bill Graham’s Fillmore West, where he headlined with the greatest contemporary rock artists of the time, who idolized King. The 60s also brought him greater fame with the release of Live at the Regal in 1964, the hits “Sweet Sixteen, Part I,” “Don’t Answer The Door, Part I,” “Lucille” and his heralded opening act stint on the Rolling Stones’ 1969 American Tour. In 1970, he won a Grammy Award for his most popular crossover hit “The Thrill Is Gone,” which went to No. 15 on the Pop charts.

From the 1980s until his death in 2015, King toured extensively and appeared in numerous television shows and films including Blues Brothers 2000, where he played the lead singer of the Gator Boys along with Dr. John, Bo Diddley and others. He reached further commercial success with his 1988 duet, “When Love Comes to Town,” with the supergroup U2 and the double platinum Grammy Award-winning blues album, Riding with the King (Reprise Records, 2000) with Eric Clapton. From 1991-2000, five B.B. King’s Blues Club locations opened in Memphis, Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles and New York City’s Times Square as well as two clubs at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. In 1996, the critically acclaimed CD-ROM, On The Road With B.B. King: An Interactive Autobiography, was released as well as King’s autobiography, Blues All Around Me (written with David Ritz) was published. By 1998, it was estimated that King had played more than 15,000 concerts during his 65 years touring on the road.

King’s many honors included inductions into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987; the NARAS’ Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 1987; honorary doctorates from Tougaloo (MS) College in 1973, Yale University in 1977, Berklee College of Music in 1982, Rhodes College of Memphis in 1990, Mississippi Valley State University in 2002 and Brown University in 2007. In 1990, he received the National Medal of Arts and the National Award of Distinction from the University of Mississippi in 1992. In 2008, the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened in Indianola, Mississippi. He died on May 14, 2015 at the age of 89 and is buried at the museum that bears his name.

The most coveted item of the auction will be King’s stage played black Gibson ES-345 prototype 1 for 80 limited edition Lucille guitar that was gifted by Gibson to B.B. King on his 80th birthday. This “Lucille” was heavily used by King and served as his primary guitar on tour in his later years. The head stock has "B.B. King 80" and a crown inlaid with mother-of-pearl, "Gibson" on a gold plate, and the pickguard reads "[crown] B.B. King" in gold. The pickups read "B.B." in gold and the back of the headstock reads "Prototype 1."The guitar is accompanied by a hard leather case with "B.B. King" embroidered in gold and is estimated at $80,000-$100,000. (photo above right: King’s inscribed guitar red leather case)

Other highlights on offer include:

  • a National Medal of Arts presented to King in 1990 by George H. W. Bush (estimate: $20,000-$30,000) (photo above left);
  • King’s stage and photoshoot yellow gold ring with "BB" on the top, each letter accented with 11 round cut diamonds for a total of 22 diamonds (estimate: $8,000-$10,000);
  • King’s 2010 Savana G35 Touring Van that he used to transport his sound, audio, guitars and equipment during the last tours of his career (estimate: $8,000 - $10,000);
  • an 18 karat yellow gold Hopkins & Hopkins pocket watch gifted by U2 engraved "B.B. King" on the back and engraved "Love U2 '89" in the interior (estimate: $3,000-$5,000);
  • his Hollywood Walk of Fame plaque (estimate: $4,000-$6,000) presented by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce on September 5, 1990;
  • King’s honorary Doctorate of Music diploma by Yale University granted on June 17, 1977 (estimate: $800-$1,200);
  • a handmade red leather guitar case embossed "Lucille and B.B. King," and inscribed "Happy Birthday from the B.B. King Orchestra” (estimate: $1,000-$2,000);
  • King's personal movie script of Blues Brothers 2000 (Universal Pictures, 1998) where he was featured as a guest star in the film (estimate: $300-$500);
  • King’s show stopping stage worn jackets including a green and pink jacquard jacket worn to the 46th Annual Grammy Awards on February 8, 2004 and a silver and gold metallic jacket worn to the first Grammy Nominations Concert at the Nokia Theater, Los Angeles on December 3, 2008, where he also performed on stage with John Mayer (each estimate: $5,000-$7,000);
  • a Stella Harmony acoustic guitar gifted and inscribed by Les Paul (estimate: $1,000-$2,000);
  • King’s National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Grammy Nominee medal for Best Country Vocal Collaboration and Best Contemporary Blues Recording from 1990 where he also won a Grammy that year for Best Traditional Blues Recording (estimate: $2,000-$3,000);
  • a brick with a plaque reading "From the grandstand where Elvis Presley performed at the 1956 Miss-Ala. Fair & Dairy Show (estimate: $600-$800)
  • as well as his 1983 U.S. passport, little black book with contacts, holy Bible and more.

“Julien’s Auctions is proud to present this auction event honoring an American national treasure, the mighty B.B. King,” said Martin Nolan, Executive Director of Julien’s Auctions. “This splendid collection owned by one of the most influential blues musicians and greatest live performers of all time—from his National Medal of Arts to his iconic guitar, Lucille—is a testament to King’s revered stature among rock royalty.”


Julien's Auctions
 257 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Monday, September 16th - Friday, September 20th
11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time
Free to the Public


Property From The Estate of B.B. King
Saturday, September 21st, 2019
Session I: 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time
Session II: 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time

For inquiries, please email or call 310-836-1818.


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For Inquiries, Please Email or Call 310-836-1818.

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Registration is required to bid in this online exclusive auction and can be done online before the sale at to bid live online, or by calling (310) 836-1818.

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About Julien's Auctions

Julien’s Auctions is the auction house to the stars. Collaborating with the famous and the exclusive, Julien’s Auctions produces high profile auctions in the film, music, art and sports markets. Julien’s Auctions has received international recognition for its unique and innovative auction events, which attract thousands of collectors, investors, fans and enthusiasts from around the world. Julien’s Auctions specializes in sales of iconic artifacts and notable collections including Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Lady Gaga, Banksy, Cher, Michael Jackson, U2, Barbra Streisand, Les Paul, Neil Young, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Hugh Hefner, Pelé and many more.

In 2016, Julien’s realized $5 million in the historic auction of the Brazilian soccer icon, three-time World Cup Champion and FIFA Player of the Century’s collection of memorabilia, personal property and awards, which featured the sale of Pelé’s 3 World Cup Gold medals, sold for a combined total of US $970,992 (£674,300), including his 1970 World Cup winner’s medal sold for $427,100 (£346,000), which set world records for the most expensive Pelé item and the most expensive soccer medal ever sold at auction. In 2020, Julien’s shattered multiple records of sports jerseys sold at auction in the sale of a trio of historic #23 basketball jerseys worn by Michael Jordan (his historic 1984 “Signing Day” official Chicago Bulls rookie #23 which sold for $320,000, a new world record sale for a jersey worn by the 14 Time All-Star and five-time MVP legend), Barack Obama (the forty-fourth U.S. President’s 1979 #23 Punahou School jersey which sold for $192,000, a new world record selling price for a high school jersey) and Lebron James (the NBA legend’s 2003-2004 official Cleveland Cavaliers rookie year NBA jersey rookie season which sold for $128,000) which combined totaled $640,000 as well as Colin Kaepernick’s official San Francisco 49ers rookie jersey which sold for $128,000, a new world record for most expensive NFL jersey sold at auction. Other notable Sports memorabilia sold by Julien’s Auctions include Babe Ruth’s 1938 Brooklyn Dodgers coaching uniform which sold for $187,500 and NASCAR legend Richard Petty’s 1974 Dodge Charger Daytona race-winning car which sold for $500,000.

In 2016, Julien’s Auctions received its second placement in the Guinness Book of World Records for the sale of the world’s most expensive dress ever sold at auction, The Marilyn Monroe “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress which sold for $4.8 million. Julien’s Auctions achieved placement in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2009 for the sale of Michael Jackson’s white glove, which sold for $480,000 making it the most expensive glove ever sold at auction. In 2020, Julien’s Auctions received its third Guinness Book of World Record placement for the sale of Kurt Cobain’s “MTV Unplugged” 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic-electric guitar, which sold for $6 million making it the world’s most expensive guitar ever sold at auction. In 2022, Julien’s Auctions sold the world’s second most expensive guitar ever sold at auction with Kurt Cobain’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video 1969 Fender Mustang electric guitar, which sold for $4.5 million.

Based in Los Angeles, Julien’s Auctions has a global presence bringing their auctions and exhibitions to targeted destinations worldwide including London, New York, Las Vegas, Japan and China. Live auctions are presented for bidders on-site and online via live streaming video and mobile technology. For more information on Julien’s Auctions, go to

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